“S is 31 years old. He arrived in Italy a little over a month ago, having made an exhausting journey on foot from Pakistan to Milan, via the Balkan route. To make the journey even harder, one of his feet was horribly broken and went untreated."
I don’t know where to begin.
Tuesday, the first rescue, approximately 85 people. By the end of the operation, joy prevailed on the deck with songs, chants and words of gratitude.
Then, Wednesday, the second mission: once we reached the area, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.
The dinghy I saw in front of my eyes was the most dilapidated I had ever seen. Suddenly, a tear in the fabric: the dinghy comes apart and 100 people hit the water.
A shipwreck. Panic everywhere.
We start rescuing people, one by one. Then it’s them, two newborns. A 3-month old little girl, who will recover shortly afterwards, and him, Joseph…
He almost looked like a doll, but he had white foam coming out of his mouth and nose. He was freezing to the touch.
Together with Ari, the doctor onboard, we did everything we could for him to recover. In the meantime, outside, the first corpses were being retrieved.
Then finally, Joseph made some noises.
The staff come to notify me: “Luca, third rescue underway”. And Joseph, he begins falling ill again. So, we start reanimating him. Half an hour. Joseph didn’t make it. He only lived for six months.
I have never been in a warzone but this felt like one.
I am 30 years old and have spent 10 of those years working as a nurse. I have always been calm at work. But the days I have just endured were the most intense and heavy of my entire life.
Why are there people who do not want to open their eyes? Here, in the middle of the sea, people are dying. DYING.
– Luca, EMERGENCY’s nurse aboard of Open Arms
After three rescue missions between 10 and 11 November, 250 people are currently hosted on board the Open Arms vessel (including 12 women and 80 minors, 76 of whom are unaccompanied).
They come mainly from Eritrea, Togo, Sudan, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Somalia, Burundi, Ghana, Ethiopia and Ivory Coast.
11 people in a serious medical condition have already been evacuated following the intervention of the Coast Guard. The body of little Joseph, six months old, was also transferred to the mainland. While 5 other lifeless bodies rescued from the waters continue their journey together with the living.
If we hadn’t been there to help them, what would have become of the survivors?
Picture from Sergi Camara